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Where Have All Our Friendships Gone?

Where Have All Our Friendships Gone?

Can We Live Without Them?

For some time now it has seemed that friendships for many people have been on the decline. According to a recent study in the American Sociological Review, nearly 25% of those polled reported that they did not have close friendships. The study goes on to say that the percentage of those relying on family members for friendship has risen sharply and of those relying on their spouses almost exclusively has nearly doubled. While we may have co-workers and an array of acquaintances, many people lament that they do not have close, abiding friends in whom they can confide their deepest thoughts. At Mars Venus, we think a true friend is one to whom you could not only share the nightmare you had last night, but who would actually listen!

Friendship is not a luxury item, especially for a woman. It is so easy to put off reaching out to a friend and even easier to postpone making new friends. We are so busy with work and after-work communicating online and by cell phone, there is little time left over for clubs, community organizations, church activities, active participation in sports, and other traditional methods of meeting and making friends. Such activities used to be the convention of leisure. Now, if we do have time for the gym or a walk in the park, we find ourselves in a culture of iPod wearers, reveling in our public isolation.

Friendship is not a luxury item, especially for a woman.

For many women the time, resources, and energies required for making, keeping, and deepening friendships have shrunk. But her need for deep and lasting friendships is greater than ever. The more stresses she experiences, the greater her need becomes. In order to be her best self, most women need a broad spectrum of friends, a diversely capable team of handlers as it were, to feel supported and understood. She is most likely to optimize her natural gifts through layered and detailed discussions with different listeners in order to explore every facet of an issue, particularly how it makes her feel.

…her need for deep and lasting friendships is greater than ever.

When stressed, her “solution” is to achieve emotional awareness or inner peace through these layered and detailed conversations about her feelings. And, she benefits from helping other women in her circle to achieve these goals as well, for then she fulfills her need to give care and nurture, just as she has received care and nurture.

A woman in a relationship with a man, who lacks a broad support system, is very likely to unconsciously try to convert him into her confidant, gal pal, sister, and shopping buddy all rolled into one. The consequences can be disastrous! And even when a man sacrifices his need to be alone in favor of his partner's need to talk, she may feel frustrated if he cannot share his feelings or understand hers, as another woman would.     

Whether single or in a relationship, a woman with a limited circle of friends is likely to feel isolated, depressed, alienated, lacking in confidence, unattractive, unhappy, bored, apathetic, and even physically unwell. When she feels this on-going depletion, she is likely to be argumentative and irritable and perhaps even unstable. She critically needs an appropriate system of supporters. Increasing her friendship base, in contrast, raises her confidence level, increases her liveliness and activity level, promotes a positive outlook, makes her feel loved and accepted, and gives her hope. With a solid support system in place, she is likely to be a better parent, spouse, or girlfriend; or if she is on her own, she is far likelier to enjoy and savor life, make appropriate choices, and feel generally “connected.”

Increasing her friendship base, in contrast, raises her confidence level, increases her liveliness and activity level, promotes a positive outlook, makes her feel loved and accepted, and gives her hope.

Making friends takes time and effort, to be sure. Yet, forming and nourishing friendships should be part of a woman's daily self-care. It's in most women's best interest to set aside the time and make the effort to accept invitations to lunch, invite a friend over for coffee, host a party, join a book club, a church, volunteer, take a class….the possibilities of what to do are endless once a woman commits to her vital need for an array of friends.

If time is a constraint or joining a lot of activities is not your style, internet friendships hold extraordinary power in our fragmented culture. 10 years ago, it might have seemed unthinkable to conduct friendships virtually. However, internet friendships can provide emotional comfort and fulfillment, especially when our busy schedules do not provide the time it takes to make traditional friendships. As one marsvenus.com message board poster recently extolled, “I am absolutely amazed and blown away at the love, kindness, and care that is in abundance on these boards.” While message boards may not replace non-virtual friendships, they can play a vital role in supporting individuals through emotionally trying times. Often our online friendships complement our in-person relationships and may migrate to in-person relationships as well.

Whether in the physical or virtual worlds, friendships require honesty, mutual support, acceptance, and respect. The first step is to make friendship a priority. The payoff for women is nothing short of fulfillment. For women, having a broad base of friends with whom she may discuss matters of importance optimizes her personal well-being. If she's in a relationship with a man, it is more likely to flourish. If she hopes to be in a relationship with a man, she is her most attractive and confident when she has the loving support of varied and nourishing friendships.

The first step is to make friendship a priority.

We are in the process of developing our "Venus Circle"; a forum of discussions, how-to’s and recipes that will cater to the need we all have to feel more deeply connected and understood.  Best of all, they’re designed to be a fun, free addition to the Ask Mars Venus program.  If you would like to visit our Venus Circles and see all that’s waiting for you, please click here

Do you have questions about this article? Do you need help understanding how this information can change your life? Talk to one of our expertly trained telephone coaches today and get the answers you are looking for. You can call from the privacy of any phone, and our operators are available to assist you with processing your call.

Call 1-888-627-7836 for details and a personal message from Dr. John Gray.

 
 
  

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